The tasks that give me the most anxiety aren’t the tasks that are new or I don’t know how to do or are really big.
The responsibilities I have that give me that anxious feeling are the things I have to do on a daily basis, and if I forget or can’t get to them I have a sense of guilt that swells up inside me. Such is the case with support tickets.
checkAppointments modus operandi is to make sure everyone gets a response to their support request within 24 hours. Thus as soon as a ticket is submitted the clock starts on getting it answered.
Jumping on support tickets right away will give the impression that they should always expect that immediate of a response. Since I can’t always be immediately available to respond, I should know better than to give off that impression. Realistically, I have too many items I’m responsible for to also actively monitor our ticket feed or my inbox all day.
In the past I have handled doing support tickets by checking my email in between tasks, reading the support tickets, deciding how urgent they were, and then deciding whether to answer them.
This method has an inherent flaw that we’ve discussed in a previous productivity hack post. The more I checked my email for support tickets, the more I had to reprioritize my current tasks, which involved making decisions about priorities multiple times per day. The more you have to make decisions (even be them so little as whether to answer a support ticket), the more difficult keeping a grasp on your priorities is, and thus the worse your decision making ends up being.
Such is the case for all people as decision making taxes our working memories. Making a decision tires our brains out, so it is best to figure out a way to reduce the number of decisions you have to make if you want to stay more productive.
I circumnavigate my anxiety and stress of the daily requirement to get all support tickets answered by reducing the number of times per day I have to make decisions about answering them. Just to give you an idea, tickets vary in number from 5-15 per day, and each takes between 5-10 minutes to complete.
To reduce the number of times I have to make a decision, I have scheduled in 2 (roughly) 30 minute periods Monday through Friday from 8:00-8:30 in the morning and 4:30-5:00 in the afternoon where I will check our support tickets, respond if I’m able or report a bug if need be and make the notes I need to to report bug fixes back to the user.
When I’m outside of those 2 time frames, I may be tempted to look at the emails hanging out in my inbox, but I must resist under the orders of my more rational self who has formerly made the decision to restrict the number of decisions I make per day.
Here comes the part about figuring out ways to make the decisions your more rational self makes non-negotiable when it comes to dealing with your irrational self.
You first must understand that you will be tempted to disagree with yourself when push comes to shove. You’ll fall back into old habits and routines. If you can accept this, then you can begin looking for measures you can put into place to help make things non-negotiable.
From our post on getting weekly recurring tasks completed, you’ll remember one good tactic (that we’ve already addressed in this post, as well) is to put it on your schedule.
Another good idea is to pair it with something you really enjoy and wouldn’t pass up the opportunity to do. For instance, I really, really enjoy my morning coffee and afternoon tea. One thing I can do for myself to help me adhere to this schedule is to only permit myself to have either of those if I’m doing it alongside getting the support tickets answered.
A third measure I can take is to filter my inbox messages. If I realize the reason I’m presented with more decisions than I want is actually seeing the support tickets wind up in my email, then that’s something I can change. I can use Gmail’s email filtering to parse out support tickets from my main inbox view. I’m sure I’ll still check my inbox throughout the day, but with many of the support tickets being routed to a different folder, I won’t tempt myself to decide their priority outside of my scheduled times.
So there you have it. We essentially just took the principles we applied when making the recurring weekly task less stressful to making the recurring daily priorities less anxiety ridden. First, I scheduled it in, then I looked to pair it with something I love, and finally I lowered the temptation that I’ll feel to decide if it is something I need to do right now.
Have you ever had to make something that you had to do every day non-negotiable for yourself? What measures did you put in place to make it non-negotiable and what struggles did you have keeping that promise to yourself? Let us know in the comments below.